Taylor Swift sings “Bye bye baby” to her ex as she drives away from his place for the last time.
Literary Device: Simile
In the second verse, Taylor Swift deploys the following simile:
The picture frame is empty
On the dresser, vacant just like me
An empty picture frame is an evocative image. A picture frame is meant to enclose and showcase something meaningful, whereas an empty frame showcases nothingness. By comparing herself to an empty picture frame, Swift indicates that she too is full of emptiness where meaning used to be. The place in her heart that was occupied by this relationship is now a blank space.
Indeed, nothingness taking the place of something significant is a major theme of Bye Bye Baby. While she is driving away, Swift reflects three times that the relationship is no longer tangible. “All the pages [of their relationship] are just slipping through my hands,” “There’s just so much that I can’t touch” and “I try to grab at the fray.” Swift’s relationship, previously real and tangible, is now nothing. Additionally, Swift repeatedly uses the word “everything” in order to describe the significance of their relationship. “I was so sure of everything / Everything I thought we’d always have.” In the chorus, she laments “Bye, bye, to everything I thought was on my side… I want you bad but it’s come down to nothing.” During their relationship, Swift’s partner was her everything. Going forward, he will be nothing.
Swift returns to another common theme of hers in Bye Bye Baby by mentioning movies, pictures, and writing. In addition to the vacant picture frame and the pages slipping through her hands, the first line of the song is “It wasn’t just like a movie.” This relationship was not a Love Story that conforms to the romance genre and will be preserved through the ages. Nor is it a Picture to Burn, a passionate act of arson that leaves behind ashes. Like White Horse, Bye Bye Baby instead depicts the quiet sadness of a relationship that transformed from everything into nothing and will leave nothing behind: not a movie, nor a picture, nor a book.
If you are enjoying Taylor Swift scholar, please consider subscribing or sharing <3